Hulkenberg deserves Audi F1 seat – Verstappen

May 13 (GMM) Max Verstappen has backed F1 rival Nico Hulkenberg and Audi’s decision to team up.

It has been claimed that the now 100 percent Audi-owned Sauber team – to transition to a full works Audi team for 2026 – will pay Hulkenberg, 36, 5 million euros to start racing for the Swiss-based outfit from 2025.

A much more lucrative offer is on the table for Ferrari refugee Carlos Sainz, but triple world champion Verstappen says Hulkenberg was right to say yes to Audi.

“I completely understand why Audi chose him and also why Nico chose Audi,” he is quoted by Sport1.

“Of course I think it’s better to change teams less often, but sometimes it’s out of your control. So I understand that he is going there and I am very happy for him,” Verstappen added.

Indeed, Hulkenberg admits that team boss Ayao Komatsu fought hard to keep the German at Haas for 2025 and beyond,

“Haas was the team that allowed me to return,” he said. “But at the end of the day, for me personally, Audi simply provides the better opportunity in terms of sport.”

Hulkenberg actually holds the bitter F1 record as the driver with the most grand prix starts – more than 200 – without ever standing on the podium.

But Verstappen says the German’s experience will be invaluable for Audi.

“It’s always good for Sauber to have a driver like Nico in the car instead of using a rookie,” he said. “Then Audi are new to the sport in 2026, Nico has been in Formula 1 for a long time and he really knows what he’s talking about.

“I’m very happy for him that he will be driving in Formula 1 for at least two more years,” Verstappen added. “He absolutely deserves it.

“Nico is a very good driver. At certain times in his career he may have had a bit of bad luck where he should have been on the podium and it just didn’t work out.”

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